In Jenatsch, Schmid set himself a tough challenge, taking up a tale that may appear at first sight easy to tell but which interweaves different epochs. The film centres on Sprecher, a journalist who is sent to interview anthropologist Dr. Meister, who once led the excavation of Jenatsch’s tomb. Jenatsch was a 17th-century Swiss freedom fighter who was murdered during the carnival celebrations in Chur in January 1639. During his assignment Sprecher takes a brass bell, which is supposed to unlock the secret surrounding the murder of Jenatsch. Gradually his life is drawn into the history of Jenatsch. As he tries to put things right, he suddenly loses all sense of reality. The only solution seems to be to “murder” Jenatsch again. The murder becomes a repeat of the reconstruction that the anthropologist played out to the journalist –originally to the journalist’s great amusement. But what seemed at first to be no more than a joke, suddenly turns very sinister. –BAFICI
Daniel Schmid (1941-2006) was a Swiss film and theatre director. In 1992, at his 51 years of age, he created Hors saison, a film that is sort of the key to his oeuvre and his life.
Unlike many other filmmakers of his generation who, following the spirit of the ’60s and the New Swiss Film movement, were not averse to being regarded as socially and politically committed cultural professionals, Schmid considered himself, first and foremost, an artist. In the truest sense of the word, that which defines the artist as a master of a craft out of which something genuinely new, artificial as well as artistic, is created. For Daniel Schmid, what we call reality is the raw material from which he shaped new worlds and realities. –BAFICI